Dennstaedtia punctilobula

A common fern of the woods often covering large areas

Dennstaedtia punctilobula hay-scented fern

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

Gentle yellow-green fronds have finely pubescent stipes and light golden hairs that create softness in appearance.   The pinnae are arranged like rungs on a ladder with rather large spaces in between.  This fern grows in large colonies with singular fronds.  This is one of the few ferns that can grow in full sun as well as in dry and shady conditions.  By end of summer, the fronds turn soft bronze color and start to smell like hay, thus the common name.  This fern is sensitive to cold and one of the first ferns to wither in the autumn.

Dry, partly shaded woodlands and open fields, sandy soils.  Occasionally grows in cracks of rocks.

Range is from New Brunswick and Ontario to Indiana and Minnesota, south to Alabama and Tennessee.

Wetland Code: UPL

Produces spores in summer.

Frond  singular from a spreading rhizome, sterile and fertile fronds look similar, arching and erect.  Height varies from 15-30 in. long.

Blade  yellowish-green covered with fine glandular hairs.

Pinnae  close together and subopposite, longer than wide; tapering tips with silvery, jointed, soft hairs on both surfaces.

Pinnules  numerous, opposite, longer than wide, lobed.

Rachis   slender, light brown (almost pink) to straw colored, darker at the base, hairy.

Stipe   dark brown at the bottom becoming light or reddish-brown above covered with white hairs.

Rhizome  horizontal and slender, rapidly growing; older parts dark brown and nearly smooth, younger parts green and covered with numerous reddish brown hairs.

Sori  very small, at margins of pinnules.  Surrounded by a unique, cup-shaped indusium.

Stem (both rachis and stipe) is covered with white hairs.

The genus name, Dennstaedtia, was given in honor of an early 19th century German botanist,  August Wilhelm Dennstaedt.  The species epithet comes from Latin 'punctus' and 'lobula'.  The former means 'pricking points' and latter 'lobes'. Andre Michaux gave this name to the fern in 1850s for the sharp leaflet lobes.

Dennstaedtia punctilobula hay-scented fern

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

Dennstaedtia punctilobula gallery